Traveling in 2022. An Honest Conversation.
I've been reading a lot of articles about traveling in 2022 and what we can all expect in this new year when it comes to travel. Many "experts" are weighing in with their opinions and touting that things will be back to "normal" before we know it. Expedia is even saying this year will be the GOAT ... Greatest Of All Trips.
But having been on the road full-time since July of 2020, my perspective is vastly different than theirs. In fact, I think most of these writers are full of bullshit because they have not traveled the past couple of years or experienced the frustrations that we have.
It's one thing to write about travel and another to live it.
The recommendations or thoughts don't always match up to reality and it's here I want to shed some light on the situation.
Can I be completely honest with you?
As Hotel Crashers plans our second year of traveling full-time, there have been some very hard conversations about our future as it relates to seeing the world.
I don't claim to be a travel expert but I've certainly seen and learned a lot ... experiences that have been extremely valuable and which have changed my life. And as much as I have loved this adventure of a lifetime, there are challenges that are robbing the joy of it all. These circumstances often get overlooked in travel blogs because no one wants to hear the negative side of traveling. Here are some hard realities.
Hotels are price gouging travelers.
When we first started out, hotel rates were reasonable and on par for what they should be. Paying $60-$80 per night for a good hotel like Comfort Suites, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, or MyPlace Hotels was normal. Unfortunately the hospitality industry is raking people over the coals and taking advantage of travelers right now and it's disgusting!
Whether the goal is to make up for lost money during the pandemic or some other ridiculous reason, these same hotels are now charging triple the rates regardless of the location.
While it's understandable hotel fees will be higher in popular destination areas like Bar Harbor or Provincetown, this should not be the case for cities like Hartford, Connecticut, or Tucson, Arizona. And we certainly shouldn't have to pay $140 per night for a dumpy Rodeway Inn in the middle of nowhere.
The reality is hotel prices are becoming exorbitant while their level of service continues to deteriorate. Which brings me to the next point.
Hotel guests can be real assholes.
Maybe this is the real reason hotels chains like IHG and Choice Hotels are gouging people.
While there are pros and cons to living in hotels, one would hope guests could practice some form of hotel etiquette or common sense while staying there. Unfortunately this is not so and there are a LOT of guests who are assholes, causing unnecessary problems (like higher rates and service disruption) for the rest of the good people.
You would not believe how disgusting and disrespectful some people are. Not only have I heard countless horror stories from people working in the industry, I have seen it firsthand. It's no wonder the hospitality industry can't keep workers employed.
AirBNB and VRBO are crippling the locals.
We used to like rental websites like AirBNB but will no longer support them in any way. Here's why.
Not only are the prices misleading (sure it's cheap until you add on all their asinine fees) but they are destroying local businesses and opportunities with unethical practices. Not only is AirBNB purchasing properties and driving up home prices or eliminating housing for locals, they have seemed to move away from what made them great.
More could be said about this but a quick internet search will turn up plenty of articles about why businesses like this have changed tourism and caused problems for travelers.
Overcrowding is killing the joy of traveling.
Many tourist destinations cannot survive without visitors. Their entire economy and livelihood rests solely on the people who visit and how much money they spend while having a great time. But in some places tourism is getting out of hand and the overcrowding of guests is killing the joy of it all.
Take our National Parks for example. It's amazing so many people are visiting and experiencing the great outdoors, but with larger crowds comes more problems like longer wait times or required reservations, as well as more damage to the ecosystem from people leaving their trash behind or feeding the wildlife. So it's a tough and delicate balance to maintain.
There are great and lasting rewards from exploring the world around us and I'll never discourage people from doing so. However I do encourage travelers to think about how their decisions or actions can impact the locals, the environment, and the industry as a whole. So make good choices!
Covid regulations are maddening and complicated.
The Covid pandemic was never going to keep us from living our dreams, so we have continued to live as normal a life as possible while making the memories of a lifetime. Yet this damn virus has caused traveling to be a nightmare at times.
The suggested or mandatory guidelines have constantly been changing and they differ from state to state. To complicate matters more, towns or cities in the same state even have different restrictions. Mask or no mask today? No entry without your vaccination card?? Really??? And if you decide to travel to Hawaii or internationally there are required Covid tests and restrictions to keep you guessing about whether you'll be welcomed or sent back home.
I won't dive into my opinions about this entire pandemic but I will say it's time to stop the insanity and start living.
Traveling isn't always a perfect Instagram photo.
Spending time on Instagram and following travel bloggers or digital nomads can be addicting. Seeing those perfect photos of people exploring new places or taking a permanent workation is intoxicating. Don't we all want to be there!
Taking a leap of faith to travel full-time is one of the best decisions we have ever made. There are no regrets even with some of the challenges we've faced. I highly recommend anyone who wants to try living on the road to do so without any trepidation. Live your dream.
On the flip side, living as a digital nomad in any capacity, isn't always perfect or easy. As great as the #InstagramLife might seem, it's not always sunshine and beaches.
Sometimes you score a nice beach resort only to be stuck inside due to bad weather. Other days you can't work because the WiFi sucks. There are moments you miss routine and moments you wonder if you can afford to keep going because the prices for everything have increased.
And of course there are those irritating days when it feels like all you got is sand stuck between your butt-cheeks and there's nothing you can do about. How is that for honesty? ;)
Traveling in 2022 should not be avoided.
Whether you want to live on the road full-time or simply take a vacation, the goal of my ramblings is not to discourage you from traveling in 2022. Quite the opposite, I want you to discover the truly amazing world and cultures all around us.
So many people have been locked up and imprisoned by constant fear that it's time for people to begin living again and enjoying the company of others. Life is too short to not explore or make meaningful memories. As my aunt would say -- GO!
Yet you also need to know what to expect and know the reality of traveling right now. Things were completely different two years ago. It will probably be different in 2023. My purpose is to prepare you for what is now and what might be ahead. If you have patience and flexibility and have planned for contingencies, it will be all good.
As for us, I don't know what the future holds.
We don't plan to stop traveling in 2022 but there definitely have been obstacles that are getting harder to overcome. There might be months we sit idle in a single location waiting for prices to drop and availability to increase. Or we might purchase an RV and set up a home base before hitting the road in a different way. Maybe we'll park our truck in front of your house and kindly beg for a hot meal. LOL!
Regardless, pursuing our hopes and dreams is never easy and we will all face adversity on a continual basis. That's just part of taking a risk. What's important is that we do it and we keep going until we can do it no more.
Stay tuned for more updates. Until then, be a great traveler and enjoy!